In the year since George Floyd’s tragic death at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, protests all over the country erupted with calls to action—police reform and the push for Americans to take a look at the endemic racial injustice in the nation.
Despite the impact, the public reception of Floyd’s murder reached heights that exceeded conventional expectations for what a protest is all about. It provoked conversations about race within schools, legislatures, and workplaces; it was also reflected in art and literature.
Americans also began to reflect and have discussions about their own history in new ways.
As we continue to look at experiences and notice how things have changed to create a better tomorrow, we must not forget that it is an ongoing journey.
With that, here are some ways that the world has changed for the better after George Floyd’s passing.
1. Monuments of racist figures came down.
Since Floyd’s murder, it has become more common and possible for states, cities, and institutions such as universities to examine the use of Confederate symbols.
In the past year, countless monuments and statues of Southern fixtures have come down: John C. Calhoun in Charleston, South Carolina, and Stonewall Jackson in Richmond, Virginia. Statues of Christopher Columbus were also vandalized or torn down across the country.
These instances are a sign of progress, but it’s so much more than knocking down stone slabs. It could be the needed push to embark upon a healing journey; learning and correcting our history to become more inclusive.
2. Cities were re-shaped as a result of protesting.
Mourners and protestors transformed the public street of George Floyd’s murder into a plaza. It is now a place to express grief, remembrance, and a hub for demonstration.
In Washington, D.C., a designated part of 16th Street NW in which marchers congregated some blocks away from the White House, is now Black Lives Matter Plaza.
‘Black Lives Matter’ is also painted on Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York.
Protesters all across the country used roads, bridges, highways, and other public spaces to highlight their anger and grief. While doing it, the actions brought forth a sense of urban planning and equity to the forefront.
3. Shows were removed from streaming platforms over racial insensitivity.
Countless shows were taken off of streaming platforms due to depictions of Blackface or other racially insensitive commentaries.
Shows like Little Britain and The League of Gentlemen were taken off Netflix.
Literature was also subject to this. Certain Dr Seuss books depicted caricatures and stereotypes of Asians and Black people.
4. Blackout Tuesday gave people the opportunity to understand Black Lives Matter.
In June 2020, black backgrounds were posted all over social media as a protest called Blackout Tuesday.
The purpose was to ‘black out’ all other activity that generally goes on in the day to really learn about the Black Lives Matter Movement. Groups within the music industry, such as record labels and streaming platforms, jump-started it. Later on, this action faced scrutiny because this type of post saturated the #BlackLivesMatter, which hid posts with important information about protests.
5. Prominent companies stood in solidarity with BLM.
Companies such as Doordash, Grubhub, Etsy, and Shopify, to name some, have quickly shown their support for BLM.
“While our Black colleagues uniquely feel personal outrage at these events that we see all too often, I and the entire Grubhub team share their horror and frustration, and know the impact of current events is profound and will rightly be felt for a very long time,” said Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney in a statement.
“Grubhub will always stand for inclusiveness and celebrate our diversity. We will continue to build on the shared experiences and differences in all of us because our success depends on the diversity of our people,” Maloney continued, in part.
6. Black women mattered as well.
Many people pointed out the issues that occur to people of color due to systemic racism in the country when Floyd died. However, activists within Louisville, Kentucky, made efforts to shed light on another severe case of senseless violence that initially went under the radar: the police killing of Breonna Taylor, whose murder happened two months before Floyd’s.
Taylor was shot a total of eight times in her home as she slept as officers entered her home without warning on suspicion of drug possession.
Activists that rallied behind getting justice for Breonna Taylor made a powerful statement that prompted real conversations about the violence that also happens to Black females in the country.
7. Preventative laws put in place.
Minneapolis City Council made the police department ban chokeholds and neck restraints during arrest.
In Louisville, Kentucky, the unannounced police raid ( or ‘no-knock warrant’) that Breonna Taylor became a victim of has been banned.
Additionally, conversations about defunding the police were another aspect that protestors want to see changed. Protesters believed the police received too much money and hoped that it would be reduced.
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City had mentioned diverting money from the police department to social services that would help police departments understand where racial biases are and how to combat them.
8. Corporate America began to understand race issues.
The public outcry over George Floyd’s filmed murder was a significant wake-up call for CEOs in America.
Goldman Sachs launched the One Million Black Women initiative, a philanthropic effort that is committed to $10 billion in direct investment capital and $100 million in support to tackle the gender disproportions and gender biases Black women faced for generations.
Brian Cornell, the CEO of Target committed to send $2 billion to Black-owned businesses.
9. Systemic racism became noticeable.
Systemic racism always seemed uncomfortable for some Americans to talk about, because they don’t have the same lived experiences as minority groups.
But as a result of Floyd’s murder, the term ‘systemic racism’ brought forth by activists and other academics became nearly inescapable.
President Joe Biden used the phrase in his convention speech. He also used it on Election Night and in his inaugural speech.
This was significant because it is an indication that the term ‘systemic racism’ that many minority groups experience every day is finally being acknowledged. America’s turbulent past is starting to repeat itself in the present, which is affecting the nation’s future.
10. Multiple donations and protesters being bailed out.
The memorial fund for George Floyd exceeded the goal of $1.5 million and became the most donated to GoFundMe page of all time.
Other donations were also made to other organizations that focus on eradicating racism.
The Minnesota Freedom was created to help people with lower incomes cover the cost of bail for themselves or loved ones which can be pricey.
Celebrities such as Harry Styles have also donated to organizations set to bail out protestors.